One child, one teacher, one book and one pen can change the world: Malala at UN

MalalaMalala Yousafzai poses for photographers before a meeting with United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and youth delegates, Friday, July 12, 2013 at United Nations headquarters. Malala Yousafzai, the Pakistani teenager shot by the Taliban for promoting education for girls, celebrated her 16th birthday on Friday addressing the United Nations. (AP Photo)

Malala Yousafzai, the Pakistani girl who was shot in the head by the Taliban last year for demanding education for girls, marked her 16th birthday with a passionate speech at the United Nations on Friday in which she said education could change the world.

"Let us pick up our books and pens. They are our most powerful weapons. One child, one teacher, one pen and one book can change the world. Education is the only solution," said Yousafzai, speaking out for the first time since she was attacked.

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Wearing a pink head scarf, Yousafzai told U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and nearly 1,000 students attending an international Youth Assembly at U.N. headquarters in New York that education was the only way to improve lives.

Yousafzai was shot at close range by gunmen in October as she left school in Pakistan's Swat Valley, northwest of the country's capital Islamabad. She was targeted for her campaign against the Islamist Taliban efforts to deny women education.

"They shot my friends too. They thought that the bullets would silence us. But they failed and out of that silence came thousands of voices," she said to cheers from the students gathered at U.N. hall.

"The terrorists thought they would change my aims and stop my ambitions, but nothing changed in my life except this: weakness, fear and hopelessness died. Strength, power and courage was born," a confident Yousafzai said.

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She wore a white shawl draped around her shoulders that had belonged to former Pakistani Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto, who was assassinated during a 2007 election rally weeks after she returned to Pakistan from years in self-imposed exile.

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